West Fife & Clackmannan CR
The link between Dunfermline and Clackmannan.

   
GRADE Easy Recreational
   
UPDATED February 2002

 

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ALLOA


This 18 km / 11 mile route goes by two main names - The West Fife Cycle Way and The Clackmannan Way. Later on, Sustrans intend to call this route number 76 forming the Stirling to Forth Bridge Cycle Route. Whatever its name it serves as an excellent route to the west from Dunfermline avoiding busy A-Class roads.

The route also serves as the backbone for the West of Fife Green Recreational Routes the routes: The Charlestown, Crombie and Culross Cycle Routes all branch off from this former railway line.
The full route from Clackmannan to Dunfermline is fully tarmaced with grass verges and provides a good all year round surface. [updated Apr 2010]
The Fife section of the route also has the distinction of having the most useless cycle access facilities that have ever been designed. There are a number of access points along the route which cater for walkers, cyclists and horses, the gates and the walk over bars are functional (the bars are scarred by chain-rings marks) but I defy any cyclist except a "penny-farthing" rider to get through these cycle points. Designed in feet and built in centimetres!


Although the railway is existent in parts of Dunfermline, it is only when it reaches William Street on the outskirts of the town that the off road really starts. A car park and Cycle Information Point (CIP) has been established at the starting point. The path skirts along the back of some houses before opening up to a wide path which becomes the norm for the rest of the route. The WFCW gently climbs until it goes under the first bridge when a gradual descent leads down to Oakley, given a tail wind and you will feel like a super-man! The Charlestown Green Cycle Route branches off at the second bridge, then a bit farther on near Cairneyhill the Crombie and Culross also branch off.
The first point of interest is at Oakley, this is not a salubrious area so do not be disappointed by the rubbish which abounds. The path opens up in what was the marshalling yard and junction for a mineral line to the north. The WFCW then goes into shallow cuttings to cross over the spectacular Comrie Burn Viaduct. The route between Oakley and beyond the burn has suffered greatly from flooding in the past and is at the time of writing (February 2002) being re-surfaced.
At the eastern end of the viaduct is another CIP which is at the junction of a mineral line. The countryside opens out after the cuttings on the far side with views of the Lothian's to the south. The Culross Route rejoins the WFCW shortly before the railway enters the far reaches of Devilla Forest.
On the right is one of the access mines which form part of the Longannet Coal Complex, feeding coal into the Longannet Power Station. The WFCW is bisected by a farm road and two access points have been erected here. Again they are totally useless for their intended purpose. At one time vandals broke the gates allowing a more rational entry but these unfortunately have been repaired. Flooding is also big problem here.
Boghall Station and Signal Box is just after the access points, the signal box has been made presentable while the station has been incorporated into the nearby sawmill.
Another patch of flooding has to be endured before the end of the WFCW at a place without a real name. I use the name of the nearest habitation which is Slack Cottage. A small car park and another useless access point marks the end of the Fife section of the cycle way.
The Clackmannan Way (CW) continues after negotiating a functional access point, when you think about why have this barrier in the first place? The county boundary is 400 m to the east of this gate. This area is also prone to flooding, the CW then passes through a wood before entering the open country side for a brief period, Clackmannan can be seen to the left. The way then crosses over the A977 beside Castlebridge Colliery, the last deep "mine" in Scotland, before re-entering the woods.
The next point of interest is the disused brick works which is situated alongside the CW. Keep out notices are posted at regular intervals, the local Clay Pigeon Club has their range here. The chimney and some of the kilns are very close the to the fence, the larger archways were for the fuel, while the bricks were stacked inside the larger arches.
Continuing from the brick works the CW crosses over the Black Devon River by another viaduct. The plethora of notices that were posted along the bridge advising horse riders and cyclists to dismount have all disappeared leaving the gray posts behind.
A piece of Sustrans artwork can be found on the mid point of the bridge, just what it is supposed to be beats me. Shortly afterwards the CW crosses over the B910 to end at a gate. Go through the gate and down the railway embankment to another gate and turn right signposted for Gartmorn Dam or turn right at the B910 and follow the road into Clackmannan where the NCN 76 will eventually head for Alloa and Stirling.
The route for Gartmorn Dam continues alongside the railway
going through a local dumping ground and two gates before ending at a T-junction with a rough farm road. Turning right will eventually lead to the dam and is more fully described in the Gartmorn Circular page on this web site. Despite everything that I have written I love this route!

THIS ROUTE IS CONTINUED FROM CLACKMANNAN TO ALLOA

Wallace Shackleton

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